Elephant West project space by Liddicoat & Goldhill opens in disused petrol station
In west London a disused petrol station has been renovated into an industrial style project space by architecture studio Liddicoat & Goldhill. Named ‘Elephant West’, the gallery is a physical manifestation of the visual culture publication Elephant.
The space is a canvas for showcasing emerging artistic talent, ‘environmental takeovers’, immersive experiences and creative programming. High ceilings in the main project space reach the height of the original petrol station and the architecture’s industrial design serves to break down the stiffness of the traditional commercial white cube gallery – the exterior is clad with a pixelated Elefant galvanised steel scaffold planking with vast industrial roller shutter door openings.
The exterior facade and entrance to Elephant West. Photography: Dirk Lindner
Remnants of the site’s original purpose have been preserved and celebrated in different ways – the petrol pumps have been sprayed white and enclosed behind four giant polycarbonate columns, while manhole covers and concrete bollards highlighted with contrasting epoxy coatings.
‘Our design exposes the latent architectural potential of a derelict, utilitarian building. It also resurrects the foundation myth of White City, which gained its name from dozens of white-painted temporary pavilion-like structures built from the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition,’ say architects Liddicoat & Goldhill.
Fuel cafe at Elephant West gallery. Photography: Dirk Lindner
‘Elephant’s tagline is “Life Through Art” and, in keeping with that, the work produced at Elephant West will resonate thematically with the concerns of the wider world rather than the narrower interests of the ‘art world’. Elephant West will turn ordinary life into cutting-edge art,’ says Robert Shore, creative director of Elephant who has spearheaded the project with Becca Pelly-Fry, head curator.
The first exhibition, ‘Dipping Sauce’, is an example of Elephant’s interactive and energetic approach. Huge photographs by west London-based Maisie Cousins show hyper-saturated macro imagery of food, insects, plants and nostalgic objects related to the experience of eating as part of a series of works that celebrate the joy and ceremony of eating, alongside which runs a programme of talks and workshops.
West London is currently experiencing a cultural renaissance, with the former BBC Television Centre redevelopment as an iconic centre piece, the RCA recently opening a White City campus and now Elephant West has jumped upon this new creative wave around White City, with its project space, Fuel café and bar, workstation hub, and shop inside it that will draw people in for many different reasons. §